Scalea is far from the most renowned coastal resort in Calabria, the southern Italian region on the tip of the country’s boot-shaped landmass. But for investors who can see past the gloomy headlines and want to make an investment in Italian real estate, Scalea is by far and away a fantastic opportunity.
The town boasts all the usual features one would find at seaside retreats that are more popular with overseas tourists – a glorious sandy beach, clear azure waters and a temperature averaging a warm 50.5 degrees in January, rising to 78.5 in the hottest months of the year. Even October has typical temperatures of nearly 72 degrees.
However, it is when it comes to bargain apartments and houses – arguably the most profitable deals available anywhere in Italy’s real estate market at this moment in time – that Scalea really comes into its own.
Its property prices come in at nearly $1,300 a square metre. In other words it means a 25sq m studio apartment barely 450 yards from the seafront can start from just over $30,000. A 30sq m single-bedroom sea-view option can go for only $38,000 or so. Admittedly that would be a bit tight on space. However, it should comfortably be enough to house two people – or even more if others don't mind using the lounge to bed down at night-time. Throw in the fact that typically both beach and shopping are less than a 10-minute stroll away and that represents undeniable value.
For something with a little more room but still very affordable, a 50sq m double-bedroom holiday home can start at around $60,000. You might also get one or more of a view over the coast, terrace and garden within that if you are lucky.
Historically, the average expense of everything in Italy’s southern regions – from real estate values down to what you are charged for an ice cream on the promenade – is far more affordable compared to other areas of Italy such as Tuscany and Umbria, which pull in greater numbers of foreign tourists and are dearer as a result.
The speed of daily life in this swathe of the country is far more leisurely. This is, you soon come to appreciate, old-fashioned Italy. A feature that is slowly changing, with foreign buyers increasingly drawn to places such as Scalea in search of better value. Italians have always come on holiday here of course – all of which means rental return for your investment is robust.
But there is far more to this town than bargain properties to invest in. Scalea boasts more than 10,000 inhabitants and sees that number swell several times over in peak season as Italians and increasing numbers of foreigners (Americans and Brits heading the queues) flock to the town.
As well as the sublime views - its waters are overlooked by mountains - this location boasts a long history. Scalea found prominence as an ancient Byzantine sea port, attracting traders from across the ancient world. A Byzantine castle and centuries-old wall dominate the old heart of the town, perched on the hillside looking down on the sea and the port, which is vibrant with modern hotels and imposing villas.
Transportation to and from Scalea is pretty straightforward too. The nearest airport is Lamezia Terme, a little over 1hr 45 mins further south, while Capodichino Airport is 230km by car to the north. Both are also reachable by train as Scalea has a mainline rail station.
The author works for the Italian real estate website Homes and Villas Abroad.